Dissent grows over infinity scroll added to WordPress themes

Hear them roar!

I had an unpleasant surprise on Monday. It seems in all their lack of wisdom, WordPress.com have rolled out infinity scrolling for both the Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven themes… and there’s no sign as to whether other themes could soon be similarly affected.

My surprise came when I was looking through the posts of my blog here and discovered that while remaining on the main page for the blog meant that I no longer had a footer area – it just kept automatically adding all the posts I had ever done for the blog. This is no longer visible:

Still there in the back end.

You can still see the footer area for my blog if you want to scroll past over 300 blog posts or view an individual post or page. Neither of which is particularly helpful for all the views I get of the main page. Unless I want to clutter up the side bar, no one who goes straight to the main page will ever have a chance of learning all that I’m up to.

This was the announcement for rolling out the feature:

In the quest to make visitors engage with your content as effortlessly as possible we are rolling out a new feature to your blog home pages—infinite scrolling! Instead of having to scroll and click through older-pages links we are now pulling new content automatically whenever a visitor approaches the bottom of a blog.

Best thing, it should be entirely transparent to you or your readers. The feature is enabled for blogs with the Twenty Ten or Twenty Eleven themes.

We take care of the smaller details, such as removing the older/next links, integrating with your design as smoothly as possible. Having said that, please let us know what you think by posting any feedback you may have. Thanks.

Pretty much every single member comment that followed was negative.

So far, the staff response has been miserable:

Howdy guys, thanks for the feedback.

The initial usage stats from infinite scroll look really good — people are reading more posts which means they’re spending more time on your site. As you might guess, people are way more likely to just scroll down than they were to click the “next page” button — it’s faster and better. It’s the future of all web pages with more than one page of content.

We’re still working out some bugs, and as some of you noted your footer widgets are temporarily inaccessible, and figuring out the best way to deal with that and other edge cases.

A few people have asked if “everyone” is against this why we’re just not turning it off. Well, there’s a thread like this which seems overly negative for pretty much everything we launch. People don’t come to the forums to say they like something they usually come when they have a problem. That’s why we ask for feedback on the forums, to find the problems, not to gauge popularity. For that we’ve learned to look at stats, what people do versus what they say. This is better because it allows us to get feedback from millions of people in addition to the few thousand who frequent the forums. Both voices are important.

Thanks for your patience, and as we fix these issues up we’ll continue rolling out infinite scrolling to the rest of the themes that work with it. Also thank you to the people on the thread who provided calm, rational feedback without attacks or hyperbole. The team is always here for you.

It took them two days to give that response to all the complaints.

The irony of the part about more views/higher stats is that people were reporting that looking at their own blog, while logged in and scrolling through all their posts appeared to be pushing up view stats. So that usage data is unreliable. The simple fact of the matter is that it should have been launched as an opt-out feature.

With the help of a friend, I am now looking into seeing whether getting the CSS upgrade is worth the hassle to resolve this matter. Responses here and here look hopeful.

At the same time, I resent the idea of having to pay $30 per year to disable something they’ve suddenly added to the Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven themes. I really can’t see how the WordPress.com staff could ever think that making this feature available in this way would ever be a popular move for bloggers or visitors (y’know visitors who have limited computer processing power and/or download limits).

Related Posts

Good one here from John Jr’s WordPress.com Blog: 2-12-2012 WordPress.com Infinite Scrolling Protest

And one from halfblog.net: WordPress.com infinite scroll – the final straw

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14 thoughts on “Dissent grows over infinity scroll added to WordPress themes

    • That is true MichaelHalring, but I would not leave yet, I say give them a chance to see how this situation ends; but I must say, it does not look so good at this time, not good at all.

      Some people are moving to WordPress.org and self-hosting their blogs.

      I do not want to rush to leave such a great blogging website Yet, but this situation does bring back some bad memories of the Windows Live Spaces days. 😦

      Good luck MichaelHarling with what ever you decide to do. 🙂

  1. Thank you for this post Emily, for commenting on my blog, and for adding a link to my post. 🙂

    About the CSS Upgrade, yeah I would not want to pay either in this kind of situation, but do continue to learn about how to deal with this situation before buying anything. 😉

    Some people are just changing themes instead, but the WordPress.com Team did mention plans to add Infinite Scrolling to any themes that will support it, but maybe that will change; who knows.

    Hopefully they will fix it to allow footers too and/or add an option to disable Infinite Scrolling and/or at least leave other themes for us to use instead; either way, what a mess, but I am sure we will find ways to deal with this depending on the outcome.

    Right now the WordPress.com Team’s next move is not clear, or maybe it is (they seem to be hiding in bunkers or something at this time, hehehe, hoping we calm down or forget about the situation maybe), either way we are waiting to see what happens next. 😉

    Good luck Emily. 🙂

      • Good Mrs. Emily, I did that as well, since I am already used to using sidebars a lot. 😉

        Unfortunately the Twenty Eleven theme does not have a three column option to allow you to have two sidebars and there is no option to show the sidebar on Posts, which is annoying, hopefully we can protest that those features be added; not enough people have complained about that yet, though some major bloggers have complained about it in the past. 😉

        I will be looking around at other themes as well, good luck Mrs. Emily. 🙂

        *Breaking News*

        AnneInpt commenting this on my post about Infinite Scrolling:

        “anneinpt on February 14, 2012 at 1:28 AM said: Edit

        I found your article by searching for “infinite scrolling” on the forums. They’ve given us an option to disable it! (I found that on yet another blog post on the subject). Just go to settings – reading – and unclick the “infinite scroll” button. It would have been nice if WordPress had announced the disable option (and the original installation) but I found the solution by chance on one of their forums. Spread the word!” *You have to be using Footer Widgets for this option to appear/show 😉 *

        http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/to-infinity/page/5?replies=137

        Thank you Anne!

        http://anneinpt.wordpress.com/

        Once again the WordPress.com Team did not officially announce this on their blog yet, sad, but at least they gave an option to disable it; people should not have to search around the forums to find information that should be officially announced on their blog where most people can easily find it.

  2. I really hope to [insert appropriate deity here] they change their minds about this (but I doubt it). I use one of those themes and am not happy that they implemented this without any user input.

    That said, I exported my entire blog to Blog.com but have run into a few issues already. I will continue to seek other options as it seems WP is no longer working in the interest of its users.

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